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Release: March 22, 2000

Yager invited to international science/technology education symposium

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa science education professor Robert Yager is traveling to Penang, Malaysia, to take part next week in the International Organization for Science and Technology Education's Southeast Asian Regional Symposium.

The theme of the symposium is "Smart Partnerships in Science and Technology Education: The Challenge in the 21st Century." The weeklong program is jointly sponsored by the IOSTE, the Association for Science & Mathematics Education, Penang, and the School of Educational Studies at the University of Science, Malaysia.

Yager, a professor in the UI College of Education Division of Curriculum and Instruction, is one of just three science education experts from around the world invited to give a plenary speech during the weeklong symposium. He plans to talk about the vision for science education in the United States, including efforts to develop a more meaningful method of assessing students' science skills. He said that 141 of the United Nations' member states have placed science education at the top of their reform agenda.

"In some of these countries where the science scores are higher than in the United States you'd think they'd be happy," Yager said. "But they realize, as we do, that many of their students are only parroting what they learn."

Instead, Yager said, science educators want to find better ways to identify and teach students so they can apply science concepts in real life.

Yager has also been asked to give several other lectures during the symposium and to run a workshop showing how institutions involved in science education can develop partnerships, something the UI science education department has been doing for years. Last summer, for instance, 20 South Korean science teachers spent two months at the University of Iowa assisting faculty with research, visiting high school classrooms and redesigning curriculum for their own use back home. Yager has also established collaborations with science educators in Japan and Taiwan.

The IOSTE was established to advance the cause of education in science and technology as a vital part of the general education of people of all countries and to provide scholarly exchange and discussion in the field of science and technology education. The organization, which has membership in more than 60 countries, has achieved recognition by UNESCO as an official non-governmental organization.